Google released Google Currents today for Apple iOS iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices. It’s a free app that makes some grand promises — “beautiful, magazine-like editions to your tablet and smartphone for high-speed offline reading,” the marketers say.
Unfortunately, Google Currents doesn’t even begin to deliver.
To give you an idea of how I arrived at this conclusion, here’s my hands-on experience with Google Currents.
Google preloads the Currents app with a library including content from Forbes, GOOD Lite, The Daily Beast, Fast Company, 500px and Saveur. A library of feeds for more magazine content is available, too.
Problem is, the whole app is clunky and terribly slow.
Even just loading a Google Currents list for a single category takes forever. From the outset, you’ll notice that Google Currents for iOS is just plain slow. Selection is sluggish.
And, while it’s possible to customize your own Google Reader feed list, try finding an option for selecting a whole category at a time. The UI here is utterly non-intuitive.
Then there’s the navigation problem. Google designed a strange and tiny icon — a semi circular, weirdly shaped refresh arrow as its Back button. And strangely, that button is at bottom left.
Some things worked slowly, some things worked badly, at least one feature didn’t work at all.
I tried adding “Trend” topics from the Google Currents list — a highly promoted feature. But it wouldn’t add content from my topics automatically. It forced me to keep tapping the refresh icon to restart the syncing process — the terribly slow syncing process. Even as I write this, I am still waiting for it to complete yet another sync. Incredibly slow is putting it kindly.
I also noticed a big problem with a major feature in Google Cuurents: social network sharing. It appears broken. The Settings options area for authenticating Facebook, Instapaper, Pinboard, and Tumblr is grayed out. There aren’t even available options for Twitter or, get this, Google + ! At this revision, there’s no way to authenticate Currents news aggregation with any of the services it lists.
I’ve been hearing folks comparing Google Currents to popular news aggregation apps like Flipboard and Zite.
There’s no comparison and nothing whatsoever for the competition to worry about — yet. I’ll probably boot it off my Apple iPad, soon. With Google Currents, Google totally missed the mark.